Cost of Red Hook ferry parking to double
By LYNN FREEHILL
Friday, September 21st 2007
ST. THOMAS - Ferry passengers traveling from the new Urman Fredericks Marine Terminal in Red Hook soon will face increased parking rates of up to $10 per day - twice the former daily rate - and a 50 cent per-trip passenger fee.
Although the V.I. Port Authority's governing board has not approved a parking rate for the freshly resurfaced lot, which is to re-open by Tuesday, Executive Director Darlan Brin said he decided to match the King Airport parking rates at the ferry lot.
Airport parking rates, which were doubled in July 2006, range from $2 for 16 to 60 minutes to $10 for a full day. Before the new marine terminal was built, parking at the Red Hook lot cost $5 per day.
The airport parking rates were raised by the Port Authority board after a study of facility fees was done there, and matching those rates was within the executive director's purview, board chairman Robert O'Connor Jr. said.
The 50-cent ferry passenger fee has been in the Port Authority's marine tariff schedule since 1996, Brin said, but the agency has never collected it.
The board discussed starting to collect the fee in 2006, when it raised marine tariff rates across the board, O'Connor said. "It was set for implementation, it was just a matter of when to begin," he said. "We didn't really have anything in place to do it."
Installing turnstiles at the new terminal - expected to be done in the next two months - will allow the Port Authority to begin collecting the fee, Brin said.
Other seaport users - including cruise passengers, St. Thomas-St. Croix and USVI-BVI ferry passengers, and drivers transporting vehicles by barge between St. Thomas and St. John - all pay fees under the marine tariff, Brin said. "It's unfair to others who have been complying with other terms of the tariff," he said. "Another payee could challenge us for enforcing it against them and not ferry passengers."
The Port Authority will have to arrange with the V.I. Education Department for fees to be included in students' tickets, Brin said.
In addition, the agency may offer commuter discounts on the fee, but that has yet to be decided, he said.
Any deviation from the marine tariff would require board approval, O'Connor said.